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Some changes to the Social Security system on horizon

Applying for Social Security disability benefits is a trying and anxious time. Someone is trying to obtain much-needed benefits so that they can live their lives, and yet the process is complicated and often disheartening. Many Social Security claims may be denied the first time around. But there are appeals and second opportunities to obtain these benefits.

The rules governing Social Security and applying for these benefits can change as well, which again can make the process of obtaining Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income quite difficult. These changes are constantly happening, but there are a few that are underway right now (or hopefully will be) that people need to know about:

  • Job listings: there is an effort underway to reclassify and add new jobs that applicants can list when they file for Social Security benefits. This is an extensive project that will take years to complete; it probably won't be ready until 2016.
  • Number of cases per judge: though the goal was to have judges seeing 500 to 700 cases per year, it was discovered that many judges were being given 1,000 cases annually. That leads to burnout, and there's less nuance in making decisions. One change that recently occurred dropped the limit to 800 cases.
  • Changing "the grid": The grid is a very general way of saying "the chances of obtaining Social Security benefits." This "grid" basically says that young people with mild medical conditions have a very low chance of getting Social Security benefits; older people with more serious conditions have a much higher chance. Judges use this to help make decisions with their cases, but it has not been updated recently. Hopefully a new project to do just will start soon.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Six Changes Social Security Is Making to Its Disability Program," Damian Paletta, Dec. 26, 2013

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